Florida –-(Ammoland.com)- On Friday, June 9th, Governor Rick Scott SIGNED INTO LAW the two critically important self-defense bills we have been urging him to sign.
One, SB-128 Burden of Proof by Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Bobby Payne restores the presumption of innocence in self-defense cases by putting the burden of proof BACK ON THE STATE where it belongs. SB-128 took effect IMMEDIATELY.
When prosecutors and judges use procedures to circumvent the rights of law-abiding people and the will of the Legislature, it cannot be tolerated.
Procedures do not have the weight of law and now the Legislature and the Governor have erased these abusive procedures in self-defense cases and have legislatively made sure these self-defense rights are reinstated. Pending cases should have the retroactive benefit of the Legislature and the Governor erasing these malicious procedures.
The second, SB-1052 Justifiable Use of Force by Sen. David Simmons and Rep. Cord Byrd corrects a 2014 drafting error (by a member of the House Criminal Justice Committee Staff) resulting in a requirement that citizens be under attack in their own homes before exercising self-defense – and in some circumstances imposing a duty to retreat from your home before exercising self-defense.
BACKGROUND on Burden of Proof:
In 2005, people who exercised self-defense were being prosecuted like criminals, and courts – with no legislative authority – were imposing a “duty to retreat” in self-defense cases.
Courts were instructing juries to find victims guilty if the victim had not tried to run away before fighting back against a criminal attack.
So the Legislature took action to restore the constitutional right of self-defense and created a specific, statutory right of immunity for people who defend themselves from attack.
That law prohibits arresting, detaining in custody, charging and prosecuting unless and until an investigation reveals there is probable cause to believe the act was not lawful self-defense.
But some prosecutors and judges didn't like it so they found a way to usurp the law and bypass the intent of the Legislature.
With no legislative authority, they created a special “Stand Your Ground” hearing and reversed the burden of proof from the state to the victim. Through case law, they changed a legislative law they didn't like.
They effectively created the presumption of guilt for the exercise of self-defense.
After conspiring to create an extra hearing in self-defense cases, prosecutors are now arguing that it would be ‘too much work for them' if the State has the burden of proof in this additional hearing and they actually have to prove their cases.
And in July, 2015, the majority of the Florida Supreme Court found that victims SHOULD have the burden of proof and prove they are “entitled to immunity provided by the Legislature.” It is an outrageous opinion.
Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady and Justice Ricky Poltson strongly objected and in dissenting opinion, Canady wrote that the majority opinion, “Substantially curtails the benefit of the immunity from trial conferred by the Legislature under the Stand Your Ground law.”
Further, he wrote that the majority “cannot justify curtailing the immunity …” And that this problem is a matter for the Legislature to resolve.
In other words it's up to the Legislature to put it back. This bill fixes it. It places the burden of proof back on the state where it belongs. And it restores the right of the presumption of innocence and the right of self-defense.